I am always very cautious when I praise an artist. That is because I need to be sure that my opinion is independent, as far as possible, of the feelings I get from them. It is certainly true that art make us emotional but feelings are ephemeral. On the other hand, the skills and the effectiveness of the artists are not ephemeral and can be analysed in cold blood.
After this seeming off-topic introduction let me tell you about a band from Belgium – Amenra. I am obviously very sure that I am not being deceived by the emotions I get from them so I recognize true talent in them, that’s why I am not afraid of praising them.
What can I say about Amenra? Well, my heart forces me to tell that they are simply one of the most efficient bands that I am aware of. Nevertheless, I will try to put these feelings aside. And let me tell you that it is really difficult. Those who have seen Amenra on stage will understand. Some people told me that they couldn’t sleep that day… I can tell, by personal experience, that I was so touched by their performance that I felt mentally brutalized the next day.
Amenra’s sonority could be described as atmospheric sludge or doom. I don’t want to spent a lot of time labeling them but there is one aspect that I think that deserves attention. A lot of people state they are similar to Neurosis and yes, I agree that Neurosis are certainly a major influence. (The fact that “Mass V” will come out via Neurot Recordings proves it). However those influences do not reflect particularly in their music. I mean, if you listen to Amenra’s “Mass I” you will realize that the root layer of their sound is wicked post hardcore or something like that. So Amenra’s sonority comes from the aftermath of those hardcore roots. I guess that Neurosis are influential because of their “philosophy”. Neurosis is an ambitious project, it is far beyond delivering music and sound. Neurosis is a well-designed project with its own spirituality. And Amenra also started to develop that aspect. Amenra is a religion. A self-made, self-sufficient religion conveyed by their music.
Going back to Amenra’s sonority I think that Amenra are really special because of the following: when you listen to a song, you get the feeling that the song is being played by itself, it has an intrinsic flow. It is quite difficult to explain. Everything seems so balanced and harmonious – the rythm, the repetion. Those palm mutes interrupted by chords seem like brutal Chuck Norris’ roundhouse kicks. And then you have Colin’s voice, that is really overwhelming. Actually he uses his voice in a surprising duality. He does cleans vocals that can resemble the purest of angels and he can scream his heart out as if his soul was decomposing.
Amenra: you really caused an impression on me. You go far beyond being a band and your philosophy is really enchanting. When I listen to your music I feel the world cracking and collapsing. And, in that process, all my tensions and all my frustrations go away. It’s like going though an infinite density that is falling apart so that I can restore my harmony. You make it all go away, the void I feel everyday in my life. I really feel your hand on my shoulder when I listen to you. I shall never forget the back tattoo of Colin H. van Eeckhout; his devotion; his vividness and humbleness. When I asked Colin if he considered himself a sufferer, he told me that he is a lucky guy because he is a persistent fighter that dodges all the obstacles of life. Amenra, thank you.
The music and lyrics are drenched in some sort of solitude, aloneness… It’s a heart and soul driven vehicle, we try to materialize our “truth” through the ungraspable medium of music or sound. We try to tell it like it is, no means to act tough or look cool. When you’re down on your knees, we want you to feel comfortable in that place. We want to stand there behind you with our hand on your shoulder, telling you it will all be alright.
Sometimes I feel like I can take on the world during a show, I’m unbeatable, immortal. Nothing can kill me. Sometimes I feel goddamn miserable and alone in the world, even though I’m surrounded by my best friends, it all just hurts. I always fight, with whatever and whoever causes harm to the ones I love. My family, my friends. Darkness. I’ll never give up.
There is no point in doing something without trying to get as much out of it as you can. And here I mean spiritually. I feed on these things; it makes and has made my life bearable. It cleanses and heals, salves and embalms the wounds you think will never heal. We all have them, we all have to learn them and live with them. So why not help each other in doing so.